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TSA behavior detection officers will be retrained after profiling complaints
TSA officers staff a checkpoint at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.
August 23rd, 2012
03:30 PM ET

TSA behavior detection officers will be retrained after profiling complaints

By the CNN Wire Staff

Washington (CNN) – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is retraining some workers after allegations of racial profiling by officers assigned to look for people behaving suspiciously, a spokesman said.

The classes come after agents at Boston's Logan International Airport said fellow employees in the agency's behavior detection program were targeting minorities for questioning based on their race or ethnicity.

Some Boston officers have complained to the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.

ACLU attorney Sarah Wunsch, who has spoken with 10 officers accusing their colleagues of racial profiling, told CNN that officers were targeting racial and ethnic groups - including Mexicans, African-Americans and Brazilians - for secondary screening.

The claims, first reported in The New York Times earlier this month, prompted the TSA to open an internal investigation.

Now behavior detection officers nationwide will take an "online learning center refresher course to reinforce that racial/ethnic profiling will not be tolerated," TSA spokesman David Castelveter said.

TSA says it focuses on security, not good looks

A class called Combating Racial/Ethnic/Religious Profiling is being provided to behavior detection officers and managers at Boston and Detroit airports, where similar intensive programs are in place.

Classroom training includes a four-hour session where problems created by profiling will be discussed.

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Filed under: Black in America • How we look • Race • Where we live
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Sancho

    The profiling itself doesn't bother me as the reason why they were profiling. They were profiling to meet quotas on offenses they could turn over to law enforcement, such as drugs, fraudulent ID's, and arrest warrants. These things don't affect aviation security. They weren't profiling to reduce terrorism. The racial aspect came up because they felt certain races were more likely to be carrying drugs or have warrants.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      So our guardians should behave in an irrational manner when choosing who to question? If ethnic groups are overrepresented in non desirable categories (drugs, terrorists, illegal fireworks) than it would be irrational NOT to target individuals based on visable criteria just because someone's feelings might get hurt.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
      • Sancho

        I think some profiling is ok. Certain groups are more likely to commit terrorist acts. The profiling in this case was to find things like drugs that are not a threat to the plane. It's possible that they were so concerned with meeting these drug quotas that they weren't focused on the real threats like weapons and explosives. I could care less if the guy next to me on the plane has some pot on him, as long as he doesn't have a bomb.

        August 27, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    It is clear that Bin Laden won. Even though he has passed on physically, his one 9/11 action initiated the inconvenient and paranoid life that all Americans must endure 24/7 forever. He knew that our government would have to spend trillions of additional dollars for the military and Homeland Security, and put out once-great nation in deep and permanent debt to other nations. Every time we have to get frisked at the airport or pay our heavy taxes or wait in long lines at the border, he is surely laughing in his grave.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  3. James

    TSA agents are absolutely useless at profiling real terrorists. It is easy to pick profile on race alone. Just take a look at how Israel does it and learn from their techniques which are based at least on science.

    August 27, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  4. j

    OK, so I am constantly frisked as I am a chubby white female wearing a girdle. The girdle shows up as bad. 99% of the time I am in a business suit and I am trying to look thinner. I'm all for profiling! Since when has a fat chick in a girdle commited an act of terrorism!!!!!

    August 27, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  5. Obama Bin Badagin

    How many white people blow up planes? They are absolutely right to profile.

    August 26, 2012 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jorge

      You're right, they mow down innocent people at their places of worship, bomb government buildings with the employees and their children in them, go nuts in movie theaters with automatic weapons because they believe that they are the villains and kidnap innocent women and children to turn them into the objects of their fetishes, then kill them. But they don't bomb planes.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jimbo

    Some Profiling is necessary. Get over it. I am a White male wounded Service member and I got to go to the little "personal exam room" at Albuquerque airport, cane and all. I'm not complaining, they were doing their job. I didn't miss my flight because I got there early. Stop Whining.

    August 26, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • charles

      i hate to tell u middle aged white men should b profiled movie theatre killer white, empire state building shooter white, shoe bomber, sandusky

      August 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      I agree, some profiling is in order. I drove passed an army guy in camo who was pulled over by Texas DPS, near Fort Hood. They had his back to the road, one officer had a hand on his side arm, the other was on the radio. I think that is a good form of profiling with all the violence near Fort Hood that is happening due to Vets with PTSD. However, I was profiled from 2001 until the Obama administration took office, for the simple fact that I traveled to Europe prior to 911. I would have multiple searches and pat downs every time I traveled through airports. I have no criminal record, I am not wanted by any government, and I have no psychological issues or medical conditions that would cause me to be a threat . On that note, I believe TSA does step out of their bounds from time to time, they make a huge ordeal most times I Opt Out of the Provision body scan, which I always "Randomly" get picked to go through. In this day of technology I don't understand why or how the airlines are not linked to NCIC/TLETS or any other criminal database in the country.

      August 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. David

    Profiling works....just ask the FBI. They should be trained on how to properly profile. I haven't seen any 80 year old grandmas blowing up planes, or 9 year old girls. Profiling works in Israel.

    August 26, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike D

      I am sure the Israelis are 10 x smarter than just picking the next black guy or Mexican of the line for secondary screening. All this reflects is or stupid prejudices of some in the U.S.A. If You were to profile just based on terrorism incidence you would be screening a lot more white males. Tim Mcveigh and his counterparts were Lilly white. There are a lot more right wing terrorists who would be willing to do something dramatic to call attention to themselves. In fact many of their outrageous activities are not classified as terrorism. Take the guy that planted the bomb during the Martin Luther King day celebration or the one that was randomly killing black men recently in one of our states. I certainly think the guy that shot the congresswoman was a terrorist But he was not labeled so by the news media

      August 27, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Cricket

      The FBI, DEA and ICE don't profile based on ethnicity they do so based on behavior. For example, a passenger who buys a cash one-way ticket from Paris to LA on the same day of departure, with no checked in luggage, who has a history of traveling to Yemen and Syria would be stopped for questioning because of their cash purchase of a one-way ticket on the same day of departure, unusual travel itinerary, long journey with no checked luggage and past history of travel to countries which are hotspots.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  8. Alkebu

    What was noted in Boston is nothing new.... and will continue to happen for years and maybe decades to come... So we take the perpetrators to court and let the legal system sort them out.....

    August 25, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  9. appmonger

    It's not surprising at all that they racially profile people. I think we have known about this all along. What would you expect from a bunch of people who have no business working to secure our airports?

    August 24, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |